From the editor:

Summer’s last gasp

Sept. 13, 2017

OK, so maybe summer isn’t really over. I know last week I said it was, but judging by the forecast of temperatures in the mid-80s this weekend, it looks like it still has some life left. Put away the long pants and cute boots for now and slide back into shorts and sandals. Hit the beach or the pool on Saturday and enjoy the last few gasps of warm weather and sunshine. I know that’s my plan. I do love fall, especially on this gorgeous campus, but I can never get enough of summer.

While I didn’t take a real vacation this summer, I did spend a fair amount of time enjoying the outdoors here in East Lansing with some quick day trips to other beautiful Michigan spots. I worked hard during the week putting in plenty of extra hours on some major projects showcasing incredible Spartans and the important work they do, but I took advantage of every warm evening and brilliant weekend. Hiking, biking, swimming and reading on my deck made my days feel like a vacation.

What did you do this summer? While we highlighted the work some Spartans did this summer on our Great State Road Trip, we couldn’t possibly cover everything. In fact, with more than half a million living Spartan alumni plus current students, staff and faculty, we really only brought you the tiniest bit of the impact Spartans are making. Truth be told, the power of Spartans is a force to behold. Every day Spartans are doing incredible things and making this world a better place for all of us.

We asked members of the Spartan nation what cool things they did during the last few months and got some great responses via social media. We thought we’d gather them up because while individual Spartans are strong, together we’re unstoppable. Check out the engaging MSUToday Feature: Spartan Summer, to see Spartans who did everything from collecting fish habitat data and studying abroad to interning across the globe and performing life-saving surgeries on children. You can also see a video of highlights from our road trip and even see how Sparty spent his summer.

Meg Kargul, Claire Gault and Jesse Yaker are three MSU students who spent their summers doing way more than reading by the pool.

Kargul, who received her bachelor’s degree in plant biology and environmental biology in May, spent her summer starting a nine-month internship in the South Pacific with the Ecology Bird Loss Project. She plans to attend graduate school when she returns in February. Check out her STUDENT VIEW: Internship in the South Pacific, to learn how she’s investigating the cascading impacts of bird extinction due to predation by the invasive brown tree snake in Guam.

Gault is a sophomore from Redlands, California, double majoring in professional writing and Chinese. She is also a member of the Citizen Scholar Program, which encourages students to succeed academically while taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities, such as study abroad, study away, internships and service learning. She spent the summer traveling throughout China and studying at Harbin Institute of Technology and can now speak, read and write in Mandarin Chinese. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Citizen scholar, to learn more about what she calls “a life-changing experience.”

Jesse Yaker, a senior majoring in political science, spent his summer in Israel on an internship at a start-up company that teaches kids English and other languages before the age of 6. Check out his STUDENT VIEW: Interning in Israel, to learn why he says, “My seven weeks in Tel Aviv were everything I had ever dreamed of.”

They’re just three of the many students and researchers who traveled the world expanding their minds and sharing their talents to make a difference this summer. Me? I mean I did work really hard, but I also spent a fair amount of time on my deck eating tomatoes from the garden.

Robert Last is the MSU Barnett Rosenberg Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and plant biology and he’s spent a lot of time studying tomatoes – particularly the hair, or trichomes, on their stems. (Honestly, I prefer to think of my tomatoes as not hairy, but that’s just me.) The research could lead to advances in pest resistance and human medicine. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: An evolving career in plant genetics, to learn how an “undergraduate degree in organic chemistry evolved into a deep-rooted career in plant biology.”

Even with the warm weather in East Lansing, I’m not kidding myself. I know that cooler temperatures and even that fluffy white stuff is just around the corner. But, I’m OK with that. MSU is absolutely beautiful in every season. And, no matter the season, no matter the weather outside, Spartans never truly take a vacation from working hard to change the world. Spartans Will.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photos by Jordan Noble